John F. Hagemann


John F. Hagemann, 70, a remarkable man by all accounts, died Dec. 13, 2009 at his home in Vermillion.  John was born Feb. 12, 1939 to Roland and Olive Wills Hagemann in Fort Atkinson, WI.

He received his bachelor of arts in classical languages from Lawrence College (now Lawrence University) in 1961.  He taught Latin, English and Greek in the Rich Township High School District in suburban Chicago until 1965.

He married Barbara Howie (Campbell) on Nov. 28, 1964 in Oak Park, IL.  John enrolled in the University of Wisconsin School of Law in the fall of 1965 and received his J.D. in May 1968.  He married Sharyn Davidson on Dec. 31, 1977 at First United Methodist Church in Vermillion.

Upon graduation from the University of Wisconsin Law School, he joined the USD law faculty as librarian where, under his guidance, the McKusick Law Library became a respected research resource for students, the legal profession and the public. Generations of lawyers remember that this had less to do with the fact of a well-run library, and a great deal more to do with the personal involvement of this man, his intelligent enthusiasm, lively personality and intellect.

As his work at USD developed, however, the law library was just one part of a continuous contribution to the university and to the life of the law in South Dakota.  A considerable knowledge of literature and classical languages, combined with a love of books and reading, deepened his scholarship and teaching, which covered a remarkable breadth of topics and led to his receipt of the Jackson Award for Teaching Excellence. He served the law school within the university and the legal profession in uncountable roles, including commissioner of the State Bar of South Dakota.

Beyond his teaching, scholarship and service are the special relationships he developed with students across four decades.  To them he offered friendship, steady counsel, good humor, and a personal interest which endured beyond graduation.  In this role he added an invaluable substance to legal education which cannot be described in a catalog or quantified by conventional measure, but without which law school education at USD would have been so much less than it has been.

John's passion for research led to the establishment of what is now the Hagemann Center for Legal and Policy Research at the USD School of Law.  The Hagemann Center places particular focus on researching the impact and interrelationships of laws and legal practices of interest to South Dakota.

Outside of his roles in the academic and legal communities, John was a baseball enthusiast and die-hard Cubs fan.  He often planned his vacations around baseball schedules from the major leagues to the farm teams and organized several trips to Chicago with fellow Cubs fans to take in the opening day game. 

Believing that one's learning is never complete, John pursued many interests including a Benedictine study and prayer group and becoming an oblate in the Benedictine Order.  When traveling, he often took what he referred to as "the scenic route" on long-forgotten back roads across the country.  Since his retirement from the law school in April, he enjoyed reading, visiting family and friends, and fine tuning the art of napping.

John is survived by his wife, Sharyn; his daughter and son-in-law, Gretchen and Doug Nichols; two grandchildren, Chloe and Garrett Nichols; three step-children and their spouses, Andrew and Maria Hoffman; Kate and Brian Gollsneider; and David and Louise Hoffman; three step-grandchildren, Amy, Sara and Laura Hoffman and William and Jack Gollsneider; and a loving partner, Virginia Koster.

A funeral mass will be held Friday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Vermillion.  A memorial service will take place on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 2:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Muenster University Center on the USD campus.

Memorials may be sent to the University of South Dakota Foundation, P.O. Box 5555, Vermillion, SD 57069 with a note indicating the gift is in honor of John Hagemann.

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